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2006 Census: Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006, by Age and Sex: Provincial/Territorial populations by age and sex

Population aging affects every province

According to the census held on May 16, 2006, the proportion of people aged 65 and over increased in every province and territory during the preceding five years, while the percentage of people under 15 years continued to shrink. According to the medium-growth scenario of the most recent population projections, these trends are likely to persist over the next few years, so that by 2022, seniors will outnumber children in every province.

The fertility decline that began in the 1960s and the steady increase in life expectancy, which affected every part of Canada, contributed to the almost uninterrupted aging of all provincial and territorial populations over the last 40 years. The aging trend can be expected to accelerate throughout the country when the first baby-boomers turn 65 years in 2011.

Table 1 Percentage of the population aged 65 years and over in the last 50 years, Canada, provinces and territories

Table 2 Percentage of the population aged less than 15 years in the last 50 years, Canada, provinces and territories

Table 3 Median age of the population in the last 50 years, Canada, provinces and territories

The fact that the first baby-boomers recently turned 60 also contributed to the rapid aging of the working-age population over the last 10 years in every province and territory. In Eastern Canada, nearly one in five working-age people (20%) was between the ages of 55 and 64 at the time of the last national census, a higher proportion than the national average (16.9%). This percentage is expected to increase over the next few years.

Group of seniors joining hands in a park.

While all provinces and territories are aging, there remains a number of significant differences. For example, the proportion of people aged 65 and over ranged from 15.4% in Saskatchewan to 2.7% in Nunavut. Nunavut also had the highest proportion of children in the country, at 33.9%, while at the other extreme, the 0 to 14 years age group made up only 15.5% of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nunavut's population grew much more rapidly than the national average between 2001 and 2006, and Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador are the only two provinces whose population declined during the same period.

As was the case in the 2001 Census, the population was generally older than the average east of Ontario and much younger in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Alberta. The latter remained the province with the smallest proportion of seniors.

Animated age pyramids for Canada, the provinces and territories, 1956 to 2006

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